Monday, December 13, 2010


One thing you guys know about me: if it glitters, I'm sold. Which is why Christmas decorations, with all their sparkling, glitter-soaked shiny bits, send me into a nirvana-like state of hypnotized bliss. Mmmmm.

Anyway, every year here in Orlando the local art museum holds a big showcase of amazingly decorated Christmas trees and wreaths, usually donated by local design firms. For a Christmas nut like me, it's heaven.

Here's some of the eye candy I brought back with me:

I like to take these close-ups of individual trees and then make a slideshow for my screen saver. It's kind of like decorating my computer. :)

You may be surprised by which tree was my favorite, though. (I was!) Here, I'll start with the close-up:

The theme was "green," and every decoration on it was either natural plant life or recycled paper. I fell in love with this little cardboard owl - isn't he adorable?

And see that garland? It was made from the pages of a book. Each page was folded over a piece of string and stapled - I can't imagine how long the 20-odd feet of garland took to make. So. Cool. Also, if you look closely you'll see the woven paper tree skirt, and my own bright green sneakers. Heh. (John and I both had cameras; he got the wide-angle lens, while I focused on the close-ups.)

[Now imagine with me if you will: a tree like this one, with paper garland and natural wood accents, PLUS - brass ornaments, a distressed leather tree skirt, and lots and lots of antique keys and GEARS. Eh? EH? Steampunk Christmas tree, guys: I totally want one. Who's with me?]

In addition to gawking, John and I also consider a trip to the Festival research: we get lots of fun ideas to try out at home. For example, check out these quirky tree toppers:

For a storybook theme. There were a lot of finger puppets used as ornaments.

How perfect would this be for a Harry Potter tree?

(Ok, so the theme was actually "birds," but I'd totally put a more magical twist on it.)

And speaking of wings, how's this for heavenly?

I could see this working with fairy wings, too, which I bet a lot of you already have in your closets left over from Dragon*Con or Halloween.

And, of course, gotta have the big glitter spray:

We first saw the spriggy explosion/burst-type toppers at this show a few years ago, and we've tried a few different versions over the years. (You'll see mine soon: one's in gold, and one's in peacock feathers. [ooooh, aaaahhhhh])

And here's the whole tree:

A few more full-tree shots:

This one was deliciously orange-y:

Sidenote: do you know how hard it is to find orange ornaments? DO YOU?!?
(It's ok: I eventually found a few.)

Here's the most fun specimen of the show:

It's jam-packed with construction toys: trucks, hard hats, little plastic tools, etc., and that giant crane is lowering the star on to the top! I love it!

John's favorite (and really high on my list, too):

Seriously, check out that color fade: from red to burnt orange to gold to white! I was amazed they found ribbons in all the graduating shades, and the effect was simply stunning.

I don't know how they made it, but I'm digging this awesome tabletop diorama:

It's shaped like a giant glass ornament! The mirrored back made it über extra sparkly, too.
Ooh, hey, and there's John looking sexy in the reflection! [rawr] And also my hat. Looking less sexy.

And finally, a few glittering tablescapes:

*sigh* Ah, to set a table this lovely...

Oh, and check out this nifty idea:

As far as I could tell, the centerpiece was a clear glass vase with tinsel wreath topper on it. The ornaments inside were then all hanging from the wreath. Clever, right? I think I want to try this - although of course on a much smaller scale. This thing was massive:

Also, you can't beat a wide-angle lens for making stuff look professionally photographed. Sweeeet.

One last shot of the place setting:

I love the big puffy bows of tulle used on the gift boxes. They looked like little clouds floating around all the crystal and glimmering gold. Just magical!

So, guys, what's *your* holiday decor like? Any tips or tricks you'd care to share? Tell me in the comments, and then stay tuned for pictures of my own decorations! (You know, just as soon as I replace the *&%$! string of lights that decided to burn out a SECOND time on the tree but that I can't remove because it's wired on and the tree is covered in ornaments and I thought pre-lit trees were supposed to be LESS work and grumblegrumblegrumble...)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Ohhhhh"

It's Wear & Share Star Wars day! Are you rockin' your SW gear? And have you donated a geeky toy to charity yet? (Full disclosure: I haven't yet. But I will, I will!)

What's that? In honor of the day you want to see another amazing Star Wars mash-up?

As you wish:

(Video not working? You can also watch it here on Youtube.)

And if your mind hasn't exploded from sheer awesomeness yet, here are a few more fun links to check out:

- The complete list of Star Wars snowflakes submitted by @thinkgeek readers so far, along with templates so you can make your own!

One of my favs:

Time to break out the paper and scissors!

- and another goody you've probably already seen, but too good not to mention:

Dr. Seuss does Star Wars. Srsly, how awesome is "Darthly Vader?!?"

See more at artist Adam Watson's site, where you can also purchase prints.

And finally, have you heard of the famous ice hotel that gets constructed every winter in Sweden? I saw a documentary on it once: really fascinating, beautiful stuff. And yes, you really do sleep on a bed made of solid ice, in rooms made of snow and ice. (Assuming you have enough cold hard cash to afford the reservation, of course. Heh.)

Anyway, check out the special theme room this year (!!):

**stunned silence**

TRON, you are now officially really, really cool.

(No pun intended.)

Check out more pics at the builder's blog here, or the Youtube vid of its construction here.

(Thanks to GirlsAreGeeks for the link!)

Oh, and if you're not following Epbot on Facebook: you should. 'Cuz then you'd already have seen the amazing CNN article on Katie that I was interviewed for last week, plus the steampunk cupcakes that dozens and dozens of you have been e-mailing me about, plus lots of other fun geeky tidbits and links that I share there from time to time. It's also a great place to share your stuff. I get a kick out of seeing all your photos and links - and you never know when I might feature them here on the blog!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My New Office Door my dreams, I mean. Because - oh yes - I will be dreaming about this tonight:

[swoon] It's all about that sound, amirite? Love it love it love it!

Even better, there are full instructions and progress pics of the construction over on Instructibles. Break out the air compressors and power tools, my friends! And also John. Because, c'mon, we totally need a few of these, Sweetie. [Bambi eyes]

Found via the amazing ThinkGeek twitter feed, which you should really be subscribed to if you're a twit. I mean a tweeter. I mean a person addicted to social media. Ok, I mean me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Star Wars Smiles

This Friday, December 10th, is Wear & Share Star Wars day! As you guys probably already know, this is in honor of Star Wars Katie and her über cool water bottle. So, break out your Star Wars t-shirts, backpacks, earrings, or what-have-you, and rock 'em with pride this Friday! Also don't forget to donate a Star Wars toys (or other geeky toy, if you'd prefer) to your local shelter, hospital, or Toys For Tots charity.

And to get you in the Star Wars mood, here's some stuff to make you grin.

First, some rockin' art sent in by Daya:

Yep. This rocks.

This was a Star Wars Fan Club exclusive by Hugh Fleming all the way back in 1998. Happily, you can still snag the poster for less than six bucks on Amazon, though, and I even spotted it on a few t-shirts on Ebay. So... I think I'm gonna have to buy one of those.

Another oldie but goodie: Steampunk R2D2

By DeviantArt user amoebabloke

Ah, but it gets even better: have you seen the updated version?

[drool] LOVE the improvements on R2's noggin'!

If you haven't seen the adorable Alphabet Star Wars prints by new parents Emma and Brandon Peat already this week, I'll just assume you've been living off grid in the wild somewhere. Still, for you campers, here 'tis:

Vader is my favorite. :) Click here to see the rest of the set.

Oh, and here's a time-sensitive deal: the Peats are offering a printed book of their entire alphabet set for $15 here - but you have to order it by midnight, tonight! So, you know, hurry up.

While I was researching the links for that set, I stumbled across another adorable Star Wars alphabet - this one done Chibi style:

D'awwww. See the whole set here on artist Joe Wight's DeviantArt gallery.

And finally, I have a little something to give away: a Star Wars Christmas t-shirt!

The give-away has ended. Winner announced below!

This is the Teefury design "Hothmas." I bought it last year, but it didn't fit. So, yes, you *could* see this as me just giving away my clothing cast-offs. Or you could see it as a generous act from a benevolent blogger just looking to make your Star Wars Christmas a little more Hothy. [grin]

The shirt is a girl's XL, but I discovered that Teefury shirts not only run small, they're also long and skinny (as you can see on the model, the printed design falls below the waist). So, if you're long and skinny and wear about a juniors' size L, this is the shirt for you! If you want it, leave a comment on this post by midnight tonight. I'll announce the winner here and on FB then, so be sure to check back.

Happy commenting, and MTFBWY!

UPDATE: And the winner is....Brilliantpants!! (I trust there's only *one* commenter out there with that name?) Congrats, and please e-mail me your mailing address, Brill.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reason #204 Why I Love John

Like most people, I have a primal fear of dentists.

Or perhaps I should of say dental tools, and the bone achingly awful pain they inflict. But then, the dentists are the ones who wield the tools, so...

Yeah. Primal fear of dentists.

A cleaning? Nooooooo!!!!

I had braces as a teenager to correct my two crooked vampire teeth (technical term). The braces worked for one of them. Looking back on the experience, I think I can safely say I'd rather exchange that year of metal mouth misery for my crooked tooth back. At least then I'd have a balanced set, and maybe my self-appointed nickname (DJ, for Dracula Junior. [And yes, I know it sucked. (bah-dum-cha!)]) would've stuck.

Still, for all the pain, I didn't really mind going to the dentist back then. Even when I had to have oral surgery to remove some wisdom teeth and "expose" a few back molars (translation: ouch), I found the whole experience rather thrilling.

Dude. The colors.

I got to wear one of those ridiculous head strap things with pouches sewn in to hold ice packs, and my whole face swelled up like a chipmunk, and I just couldn't *wait* to go to church that weekend to show it all off. Heh.

In college, though, things took a darker turn: cavities. Ug. I have a very clear memory of laying back in the dentist chair, the sound of that awful drill grinding through my skull, sharp twangy pain radiating through my jaw, and tears dripping down my temples and into my ears. Wimpy? Yep, that's me. Plus it was my first medical procedure since I'd left home, so I was there by myself. No one waiting to greet me in the waiting room. No one to drive me home. No one to bring me Tylenol in bed, or even to remind me to take it.

Suddenly, the dentist represented everything awful about "growing up."

About two years ago I had to have a filling replaced. I stupidly didn't mention the health issues I'd been having to the doctor beforehand, figuring they wouldn't matter with such a simple procedure. [The 'idiot' threat level is currently at: RED] Yeeeah. The result of my stupidity? A bad reaction to the numbing shot in my gums. They had to tip my head down with my feet way high in the air to keep me conscious, and my whole body shook for about 25 minutes. My own fault, of course, but the experience did little to enamor me with the parlor of purple gloves and power tools.

Now, for the past three years - or since the harrowing ER visit that changed my life* - John has made it a point to accompany me to every doctor visit, no matter how routine. Every one. One time he almost didn't; it was just a simple OB-GYN check up, and I assured him I'd be fine - I wasn't even nervous. He came along anyway. That visit the doctor mixed up the paperwork: instead of a pap she conducted an endometrial biopsy on me, and with no warning. I don't want to go into the gory details, but suffice to say John vowed then and there he would never again even consider skipping one of my doctor appointments.

So, getting back to my main point:

Guess where I had to go last Thursday?

[Dum dum duummmm]

Now, when you're deathly afraid of dentists, it helps to

a) take a Xanax (I only use it in emergencies, but I think this qualified)
b) have an amazing dentist (Dr. Tran, you rock.)
c) be married to John.

Our dentist has a tiny little cubicle area where he works on patients. There's barely room for the patient chair and two stools: one for Dr. Tran, and one for his assistant. To fit in there with us, John would have to stand by my legs. To hold my clammy hands the entire time, he would have to either crouch or stoop over me at a back-murdering angle - to the point that the dentist might have to pause from time to time to see how *John* was doing. And to last like that for a solid hour and a half? Well, clearly, John would have to be just plain crazy.

Reason #204: John is just plain crazy.

I'll take hand-holding at the dentist over roses and jewelry any time. How about you guys? What's the sweetest thing a friend or loved one has ever done for you? Tell me your stories in the comments!

*No, you haven't missed anything; I've never talked about the ER thing here or on CW. I did mention it once in this old interview, though, if you're curious.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where All The Lights Are Bright

[singing] Doooowwwn Toooowwn!

Disney, that is.

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to write Epbot posts lately, but I thought I'd at least share the pics I took a few weeks ago at the Downtown Disney Vinylmation store. This statue here? Look closely; it's made up of all VM toys. (And if you're not familiar, Vinylmation is Disney's take on vinyl toys: they're all shaped like Mickey, but come in hundreds of different collectible designs.)

I was much more interested in the store itself than the merchandise, though. Check out this antique register, which tops a display cabinet:



And this edgy industrial chandelier:

If it were about a quarter of the size, it'd go great in my dining room. :)

This white lion statue on a high shelf caught my eye:

See the green sparkles on his chest? They were shimmering and moving ever so slightly, and I was sure they must be embedded fiber optics. (For the record: I am easily distracted by "sparklies." I would walk zombie-like through oncoming traffic just to stare at a bowl of glitter. Fiber optics, therefore, rank reeeally high on the "lure Jen into traffic" scale.)

Eventually we figured out the lights were actually coming from a small spotlight under the statue:

I wish I knew how it achieved that cool twinkling constellation effect, though. Then I'd cover my entire office with them. (BWHAHAHAA!)

Oh, and here's the promised "hidden Cake Wreck" I mentioned a few posts back: once you're in the VM store, look in the left-hand display window. There you'll see this *awesome* Rocketeer VM:

Be sure to admire it from all angles:

Once you're done with that, look down:

See the pink VM doll, facing outside?

If you'd like, you can even exit the store and look in at it:

For some reason it has a Band-Aid on its face.

Now, look closely at the toy's left shoulder:

See the little cake tattoo drawn there, with the intertwined initials JMY in it? I did that! (I tried to be subtle, since I figured it would be obnoxious to advertise Cake Wrecks on it - although I guess the "Disney Every Day" people didn't have such qualms.)

John and I participated in the online VM scavenger hunt earlier this year, and all the "winners" got to sign the toy. The hunt was über cool: online clues led us all over Disney property, filling in answers which, when decoded, spelled out a time, location, and password. When we showed up at the finish line with 50 or so other people, we each got a free VM blind-box toy, some stickers, and the chance to sign Pinky there.

Ok, time for more eye candy!

This is the ceiling of TrenD, another new-ish shop in Downtown Disney, stocked with urban style women's clothing and accessories. It's actually pretty cool stuff, but once again I think the store design is even better than the merchandise.

Here's another shot, with the colors toned down:

I think I like this version better. The pastels are so sweet, like a candy shop.

Another cool shelf dressing:

Yep, they already had Christmas decor up.

Love the gals in retro business attire, though:

While there, I also spotted this fantastic art book which is now on my Christmas list:

(click the pic to go to the Amazon page)

These aren't your typical Disney princesses, though: they're various artists' re-imaginings of them. Which are GORGEOUS.

I found a book review over on Parka Blogs that included this great flip-through:

I think I'd like to frame prints of about 90% of this book. Awesome.

And one final beauty shot of the House of Blues:


So, what's your favorite eye candy shot this week, guys? Share your links in the comments!